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Hiking with dogs | Having a dog is fun, fulfilling, and worthwhile. You get to experience many things together, which deepens the bond between you and your pet. From cuddling on the couch to your daily walks and the occasional adventure, dogs bring love, joy, comfort, and entertainment.
One of the ways you can enjoy their company is one a hike. However, as you enjoy the outdoors, you need to be cautious about taking care of the trails you frequent on those trips. This blog will discuss how. But before we dive into that, let’s take a brief look at why people hike with their dogs.
One of the best experiences that people swear by is hiking with dogs. You may have been on a road trip, a grocery runs, or a beach day previously, but hiking with your pet dog is a phenomenal experience.
This is because not only are dogs an excellent companion when it comes to hiking; they are also fun and a protective partners. Along with this, you both get to experience nature as you explore the beauty of the trail. It’s an applaudable feat on its own, and having your pet dog by your side at that moment is even better.
However, hiking is not a simple activity. It is strenuous and demands a certain level of mental and physical fitness. It also has certain etiquettes hikers are expected to follow, no matter what hiking trail they choose. This is more important when you hike with your canine.
A better way to summarize hiking trail etiquette would be to explain what ‘Leave No Trace’ means.
The ‘Leave No Trace’ practice states one should only leave their footprints in nature. Nothing else such as wrappers, plastic, or boxes should be left behind. The concept underscores seven principles that are applicable to hiking trails too. Some of them include disposing of waste, preparing beforehand, and leaving flora and fauna as you found them. You and your furry pet can leave the trail with lots of footprints and memories.
But to implement this principle, you need to take practical measures that contribute positively to your hiking experience. Here are some tips for taking care of a hiking trail with your dog:
Before you set out on your hiking journey, make sure you conduct thorough research about trail rules and regulations. This is important because all trails have different rules that are also updated over time, depending on the management. So it is possible that a trail that once allowed hiking with dogs is not open to bringing your pet anymore. Or if it is, then they might require your dog to be on a leash at all times.
One way to ensure your dog is well-prepared for a hiking trip is to train them beforehand. This is an essential part of taking care of a hiking trail. You don’t want your dog to get tired and create a stir due to lack of training. It not only taints your hiking experience but also threatens other hikers and their pets, along with the natural wildlife present on the trail.
If you see your pet acting strangely or you sense they may pose a threat to themselves or others, make sure you use command words to stop them. This is a part of training, but it is even important for you to be sure of it while hiking. A good idea would be to start hiking on an easy trail and practice all possible commands so your dog may remember them.
Some people may find hiking with dogs threatening. To soothe their fears, it is a good idea to put a leash on your dog. This way, you can control it from harming itself, and other hikers or animals present on the trail. There are many options for leashes, including detachable ones that you can choose from.
Although it is possible a hiking trail may have water resources such as a waterfall or river, you should still carry water for your dog. This is to minimize chances of drowning or a potential ruckus your dog might cause if it sees marine life. However, make sure you don’t leave plastic bottles on the hiking trail as it’s harmful to the ecosystem and not a pretty sight for other hikers.
Instead of carrying a dog backpack or overburdening yourself, get your dog an easy-to-carry dog backpack, so all their items are in one place. This helps ensure nothing is left behind, and everything is packed into the bag, if opened.
Furthermore, carry food and snacks for your dog, so you don’t have to make them on the hiking trail. In fact, lighting a fire on a trail is dangerous and is one of the seven principles of the ‘Leave No Trace’ concept. However, make sure you don’t litter if you carry your dog’s food and snacks in plastic or aluminum wrapping.
This is an issue that other hikers have to deal with, if you’re not careful with properly disposing of your dog’s poop. Moreover, it is a nuisance for other animals whose environment may be polluted. Therefore, try to carry a plastic ziplock bag so you can throw away your dog’s poop in it until you reach home or your camp.
Finally, try to practice gentleness while treading on the hiking trail. Don’t allow your dog to get unruly if it comes across an exotic plant or an animal. In fact, make sure your dog inflicts no harm or danger to any of the flora or fauna present on the hiking trail. Furthermore, when you plan your descent, make sure your dog does not have any plant, flower, or bud attached to their fur or backpack.
These tips are extremely valuable if you care about your environment. Make sure you make them a habit, especially if you hike regularly with your dog. If you follow these effectively, chances are your dog will be trained and may get accustomed to trail etiquette in no time.